Super Stats


My blood pressure stats may have been “optimal” last week, but yesterday they were even better! Yet another thing for which to be thankful.

I’m thankful I seem to be coughing much less most of the time these past few days, and overall I’m feeling so much better than I was last week. The side effects are still an issue, though. I’m trying to focus on the positives and I truly am so grateful for so much!

Today’s news from the oncologist


I had an appointment with my oncologist this afternoon, and he is pleased with the way my new chemo is going. I seem to be coughing a bit less, but enough that it’s noticeable! He said that the side effects tend to start strong, then settle down, so I am hoping for this. I continue to see bizarre light shows at night which is somewhat disorienting but I think I’m starting to get a bit more used to it. My oncologist also said that some of my “side effects” may actually be due to going off steroids after being on so long. (Headaches, nausea, pain in joints & muscles, etc.) So some of them may disappear completely in a week or so … praise God!!

I’ve been wearing my anti-nausea (acupressure) bracelets which were really helpful during all of my pregnancies, but they only help a little with this nausea. I even took (for the first time ever) some of my nausea breakthrough medication over the week-end, and it still didn’t solve the problem. I seem to be on the mend today and didn’t even nap. I’m so thankful to be feeling better than I had been, and eating increasingly normal meals.

Now let me tell you about these photo’s that I took in the past week or so … the theme is signs of hope and abundance. First the heron: there’s a little park near our house which is home to a variety of life: ducks, frogs, turtles, fishes … and every so often a heron pops by. Seeing a heron brings joy to me, and I always thank God whenever I get the gift of seeing one. On this particular day, a gorgeous double rainbow arched over our neighbourhood, and even though I’d been in bed most of the day I went racing (ok – ambling) down to the park with the children to get a better view. Two of us brought cameras, and I was thrilled to get a few pictures of both the heron and the rainbow, a symbol of hope and promise from God.

The others are from our garden: cucumbers, flowers, and our ridiculously abundant raspberry crop (of which this is just a small taste!). These are some of the things that are bringing our family much joy this summer!IMG_0851


Thank you again for your care and prayers … we continue to grow in gratitude.


New Chemo and Side Effects

I started new chemo meds on Monday, and lots of people are asking how it’s going. It’s hard to know so soon: my nurse said it would take about a week to know how it’s working. This has been a tough week for me since I think I ate something bad over the week-end, and I’ve had an upset tummy for most of the week. I’m tired from being off the steroids as well, and have spent most of the week in bed. I don’t know how much the new meds may be contributing.

Last night I experienced some exciting drama in the form of strange visual effects. I saw flashes of light, and all kinds of unexpected things in my peripheral vision. I don’t know how to describe them, except to say they remind me of watching tv in the “olden days”, when ghost images would appear beside the actual image when the reception was poor. (Really frustrating when watching hockey: which guy is going for which puck?!) It was a bit like that, with repeated images swirling around the edges. Pretty wild!

The pages of information from the pharmacist indicate that these kinds of vision changes are a serious side effect from this medication, and urge the patient to tell their doctor straight away. I called my oncologist’s nurse this morning to ask about this, and she was unaware of this side effect. There are no doctors that she can ask until Monday. She said since it only happened once that I should continue with the meds. I’m thankful I’ve got an appointment with my oncologist on Monday.

Apart from the exciting light show last night, I seem to be experiencing only a few side effects. I had some horrible headaches earlier in the week (also a side effect), but they seem to be gone now. I’ve got a strange taste in my mouth and a bit of nausea, but it’s not too bad.

I don’t know how the new meds are affecting the cancer. I think I may be coughing a bit less, but I’m not sure. I’m definitely still coughing.

Many of the side effects from my first chemo continue, but it’s possible they’re improving. I still seem to bruise easily, but didn’t get a bruise from my blood test on Monday. My hands and feet continue to be numb / have strange feelings, but occasionally – perhaps increasingly – they feel more normal.

One thing I’ve been reflecting on lately is the idea of waiting. It’s relatively easy to wait for a short amount of time, but it grows increasingly difficult, especially when pain is involved. When I was labouring with my first-born, I was expecting it to take 24 hours or more. I wanted to deliver him without any pain meds, but shortly before he was born I asked my nurse what pain meds I could use. She said, “You’re doing so well!” … and then came another contraction and I forgot about the possibility of pain meds. Jono was with me, holidng my hand and getting me ice chips. Their encouragement made all the difference to me. Their encouragement kept me going when I felt that the pain was too much and the path was too hard. Even so, I’m glad my boy came quickly (about eight hours, if I remember correctly!) because labour is hard work!

Here is a quote which captured my imagination some twenty+ years ago. It’s by S.D.Gordon, from his book Quiet Talks on Prayer.


It means steadfastness, that is holding on;

patience, that is holding back;

expectancy, that is holding the face up to see;

obedience, that is holding one’s self in readiness to go or do;

it means listening, that is holding quiet and still so as to hear.

What do you think of this? What do you think it means? How does it ring true (or not) to you? Is it capturing your imagination? Does it apply to your life now? How would you describe/define waiting? What makes waiting easier / harder for you?

I’m feeling much joy these days, and I’m so thankful for my family and friends and gardens and birds and the beauty in this world. I’m hoping I’ll be able to get out for walks again sometime soon.

Thank you for your encouraging words, faithful prayers and support. You have no idea the difference you make.

New Chemo Meds

I’m thankful for new meds I’ll likely be starting on Monday. I’m really distracted right now, but let me attempt to tell you a few reasons why …

First, it was quite shocking to learn I had lung cancer, especially since I hadn’t been a smoker and I’ve lived a pretty healthy lifestyle. They did some genetic testing after the biopsies, and we learned that there is a new chemotherapy drug which has been quite successful at targeting the particular type of cancer I have. This is great news, since not only does it help shrink the cancer, but it also seems to generally be easier on the body than many other chemotherapies. I’m hoping to have an easier go with fewer side effects on this one.

Here’s more news, good and bad:

The good news is that it’s in pill form, so I can conveniently take it at home. The bad news is that it’s in pill form, so it’s not covered by our government insurance like the chemotherapy drugs we get via IV in the hospital. The other bad news is that it’s astonishingly expensive. The good news is that the cost is currently covered for me. I can’t tell you how thankful we are for this!

Jono picked up my new chemo pills this week, and learned from the pharmacist that I shouldn’t be taking them while on the steroids I’ve been taking since December. I spoke to my oncology nurse yesterday, and learned how to taper down the steroids. The plan is to start these new chemo pills on Monday.

I’m so thankful for this new medication, and hopeful that it will help me feel better without too many side effects. I am so thankful for medical research which is making a difference for so many people. I’m also very thankful for the ways that many of our costs are covered: this is such a gift!

If you are a praying person, please continue to pray for healing, for these new meds to work well, and for energy and encouragement for our whole family. Thank you!

New York state of mind….

“Noooo … I think you are going to have to stop planning trips”, was one friend’s response when I told her what happened two days before I was meant to leave for a week-end in New York City.

My right side is generally sore since I spend a lot of time lying on it. If I try any other position, I cough. Since last August I have only been able to sleep on my right side. I’m amazed it has held up so well. But one Tuesday in June as I bent over to lift a watering can (which I do 20 times a day), I heard a “ping” and felt extreme pain in my right side.

It continued to hurt as I walked to pick up my youngest after school, so on the way back I asked a friend who is a doctor (who happened to be sitting out on his front porch) about it. He said it could be a broken rib (cancer makes one more susceptible to this), and I should get it checked out.

So, after feeding the kids an early dinner, I took our youngest with me (since Jono was working) to our local Hospital’s Emergency department. This time I didn’t get the special treatment, since it had been over a month after my last chemo treatment.

I was delighted that one of the lovely med students I know through my work with the Christian Medical and Dental Society was working there that night – what a treat to see her!

Jono came and picked up our girl, and I stayed on until after midnight. I had a chest x-ray and pain meds and blood thinners, and I promised to go to the thrombosis clinic the next day. I got the kids off to school in the morning, then went straight to hospital where I stayed most of the day. I had a ct scan to look for blood clots in my lung. Thankfully all was clear: no broken ribs, no blood clots … only intense musculoskeletal pain, and I was set to hop a plane the next day!

I had a great time in NYC. I travelled with a friend from here, and we visited another friend who has been living there and is an amazing tour guide! We walked the High Line (former railroad tracks, re-purposed into a walking path with gorgeous gardens & art), ate lots of yummy and indulgent food (it was the week-end before my birthday, and I was determined to enjoy lots of treats!), and spent time in several parks. I got pooped on by a pigeon (good luck, so they say), which led to meeting an interesting man who keeps pet pigeons and hangs out with them in the park. He also told us about Larry who was an addict living on the streets until he got to know some pigeons – now he’s off drugs, off the streets, and doing much better. I could see Larry has a real compassionate love for these birds. I gained a deeper appreciation for pigeons that afternoon, but I’m still not a huge fan!

High Line Garden & Art          High Line           Pigeons in a Park

We went to Harlem, where we discovered a parade and street festival celebrating the anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation: what great timing! We also found a small black Jewish-Christian church service where the people were so friendly and welcoming, and the singing enthusiastic. We only stayed a short while, but we were glad to be there.

Pretty much everywhere we went, people were lovely and very warmly outgoing. We got into great conversations with a wide variety of people, including some models in a very hip spot in Harlem where I enjoyed an amazing basil-lime mocktail and some collard greens.

Emancipation Proclamation Anniversary Celebration       

We also feasted on cake from Magnolia Bakery … oh my!

I am so grateful for friends to enjoy life with, to laugh with and cry with. We continue to be deeply thankful for so many who make such a difference for our family.

So, how am I doing? Well, my side still hurts quite a lot, three and a half weeks later. I went to my physiotherapist, and when I did the exercises he gave me I ended up with bruising. I’m taking a break from those exercises until I can see him again next week…

My side effects from the chemo seem to be improving. Occasionally I have normal feeling in my right hand, and I seem to have increased feeling in my left hand and my feet. This is often prickly or painful burning, but I’m hopeful it’s a sign of better things to come. I don’t think I have suffered from much hearing loss (although I sometimes wonder if my children have!), and while I continue to bruise easily, most of my bruises are healing up well. A doctor discovered my magnesium was extremely low, and since I’ve been taking supplements my muscle cramps have significantly decreased.

I’m still quite puffy, and that can be uncomfortable as well as inconvenient: most of my clothes don’t fit! I’m thankful for a friend who made me two pairs of shorts!

I’m coughing a lot these days, and feeling quite tired. I often experience shortness of breath. The cancer was significantly reduced during the first chemo I underwent, but a recent scan shows it has grown a bit. I’m meant to be starting a new chemo treatment next week. I’ve heard this one is quite effective, with fewer side effects than the previous chemo treatment. It’s taken orally at home, which is convenient. I’m hopeful that this will make a good difference for me.

I appreciate the warmer weather, and enjoy the garden and birds. I like sitting outside in the shade. I’m so glad to be able to spend more time with our children who are on summer holidays.

I’m grateful for you who care for us in so many ways. I am often encouraged by people in lovely, unexpected ways. What a gift you are – thank you!